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Outlook Express Spell Checker

The instructions provided here will help you to repair, activate, or install the 'spell check' functionality for Outlook Express. Generally, the activation and use of the Outlook Express 'spell check' requires the installation of a Microsoft editing program* or a stand alone spell checking application before the spell check function is enabled.

However, you do not have to install any of these programs to activate the 'spell check' functionality of Outlook Express. This functionality is provided in the Windows installation disk but not installed by default. To get this installed and working properly simply follow the instructions below.

* Microsoft editing programs include, but is not limited to: Office (including Word, Excel, or Access), Publisher, FrontPage, Works, or most any content editing software from Microsoft.

(to Top) Part One

If you have installed any of the Microsoft editing programs* then you can skip over to part two.

Select: Options in Tools from the Outlook Express program. Another way way to see if you need to install this 'spell check' utility is to first check if Outlook Express has a 'Spelling' tab in the Options panel. Open Outlook Express and then open the Options panel. The options panel is found by clicking: Tools > Options.

Look for an option tab labeled 'Spelling' If you see an options tab labeled 'Spelling' then it is likely that you can skip this part and proceed with part two.

(Note: If the spell check function is already installed and working, then you can skip this page entirely. No need to install or fix something that is already working… HA!)

spell.exe by Vampirefo If you do not have the spelling tab, or have not intalled any Microsoft editing programs, then you should first install:
Vampirefo's Spell Checker for Outlook Express (version 2.1)

Vampirefo's Spell Checker works with any version of Microsoft Windows from Win95 and up, including WinNT and WinXP. You can visit Vampirefo's web site for more information.

(to Top) Part Two

For best performance you will need to install the 'Spell Check' libraries that apply to your current operating system. This is a Dynamic Link Library (DLL) file which can be found on your installation disk. The following instructions will show you how to extract this DLL file from a Windows XP CD.

The instructions below assume that drive C: is your Windows installation drive, and that drive D: is the CD-ROM drive where the Windows XP CD is located. Please adjust these drive letters where appropriate for your system if they are different.


    Windows Explorer Open 'Windows Explorer'.

    A program icon for 'Windows Explorer' can normally be found in the 'Accessories' folder found from the 'Start' menu. To get there select: Start > All Programs > Accessories > Windows Explorer.


    make hidden files visible in Windows Explorer Make sure you will be able to see the files you need to work with by first checking the folder options.

    In Windows Explorer select: Tools > Options. This will open the 'Folder Options' panel where you should select the 'View' tab. In this tab make the following settings:

    • select: 'Show hidden files and folders',
    • uncheck: 'Hide extensions for known file types', and
    • uncheck: 'Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)'.
    • Click 'OK' to confirm these settings and close the 'Folder Options' panel.


    the Proof directory Open Windows Explorer and go to the following directory:
    C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof

    In this directory find the file csapi3t1.dll and delete it if it exists. The file name case (upper/lower) is unimportant, we will be replacing this file with a new one.


    Run dialog box Open the 'Run' dialog box. This can be found from the 'Start' menu by clicking: Start > Run, or you can press the Windows key and the R key (Win+R) to open the box directly.

    In the 'Run' dialog box enter msconfig and click OK to launch the Microsoft Windows System Configuration Utility.


    System Configuration Utility In the System Configuration Utility box click the 'Expand File' button. This will launch a program that will extract the DLL file we need from the Windows CD-ROM.


    Microsoft file expander utility The file expander utility needs to know what file you want to extract, where to find it, and where you want the result to be written. In this dialog box provide the following:

    • File to Restore: csapi3t1.dll
    • Restore from: D:\i386\csapi3t1.dl_
    • Save file in: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof

    Go back to the 'Proof' directory and make sure your new file is named csapi3t1.dll. If the file you find there is instead named csapi3t1.dl_ then go ahead and rename it.


    At this point you should reboot your computer so that Windows will find your new 'spell check' configuration.


    Spelling options of Outlook Express Now that you have rebooted your computer, open Outlook Express, open the Options panel, and click the 'Spelling' tab.

    In this panel you should set the options you prefer when spell checking your outgoing e-mails. We suggest that you at least check the first two options: 'Always check spelling before sending', and 'Suggest replacements for mispelled words'.

    Turning on these two spell check options should help you to avoid a lot of misspellings. Regretfully, this will not check your grammar, so you will still need to check that yourself.


    If the spell checker still does not work, and you skipped step one, then you should do the following: make a copy of the DLL file you just created, follow the instructions for step one, and then move your copy of the DLL file back into the Proof directory.

    The utility in step one installs an older version of the DLL so it will be important to use the newer version once the spell check function has been repaired. Otherwise you will need to go through step two again to extract a current version.

    Remember: If you make changes to these files you will need to reboot your computer again before the spell checker will be use the new files.

Return to the Windows XP Update Essentials menu.

[Updated: Sunday, November 18, 2007]